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New Issue of the eJournal of Public Affairs

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Special Issue on Public Engagement and Literacy Research
Literacy scholars embrace community engagement as a way to become involved in critical contemporary conversations. Yet, researchers should not be seduced by romantic, well-intentioned motives of community work and fail to acknowledge who is being served by their research?  We invited submissions for a special issue on the challenges and opportunities of public engagement and literacy research.

From the Editor: A Kudos Moment | Andrew P. Lokie, Jr., Missouri State University
From-the-Editor-Cover-Image-Vol-6-No-2The eJournal of Public Affairs is pleased to announce our new website that will house all previously published and upcoming content. This new site is designed specifically to give readers a more attractive, easy-to-use interface with plenty of options for accessing premier public affairs articles written by scholars across the nation.
Read the full article here.

Introductory Essay
Taking up the Challenges and Opportunities of Public Scholarship: Literacy Scholars Engaging with Communities | Carolyn Colvin, University of Iowa
Vol-6-No-2-Cover-ImageAs guest editor, I welcome readers to this themed issue of the eJournal of Public Affairs focusing on publicly engaged scholarship and literacy research. The contributing authors—including myself—are deeply committed to the methodologies of public engagement, which not only inform our literacy research but are significant for the literacy learners with whom we work and the contexts in which we choose to work. As the authors describe, we value community engagement and dialogue because, together, they create spaces in which literacy scholars can understand and make claims about the diverse and complex forms of literacy that individuals use to make meaning and construct representations of their worlds. We are pleased to have access to a forum like the eJournal to make our case for publicly engaged scholarship.
Read the full article here.

Articles


The Stories They Tell: Giving, Receiving, and Engaged Scholarship with/in Urban Communities | Ashley N. Patterson, The Pennsylvania State University; Valerie Kinloch, University of Pittsburgh, and Emily A. Nemeth, Denison University
The-Stories-They-TellIn her 1993 book, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, Maya Angelou poignantly describes the importance of giving to others—giving that enriches life and symbolizes love, liberation, and humanity. Drawing on Angelou’s belief that “giving liberates the soul,” this article pushes for a more critical and nuanced way of understanding what it means to “give” and “receive,” as realized through a social justice framework. This is particularly important in work that involves young people and adults advocating for sociopolitical change within historically disenfranchised communities. To insist on a nuanced understanding, this article analyzes qualitative data from a three-year service-learning and community engaged initiative, “Bringing Learning to Life,” within an urban school district and community in the U.S. Midwest. It addresses the following questions: What educational, social, and political possibilities emerge when young people and adults collaborate on publicly engaged scholarship in urban communities? How do they refrain from negative narratives of giving/giver and helping/helper and, instead, reconcile such dichotomous positions through acts of solidarity around shared concerns? How do they see themselves as agents of change? What are the stories they tell?
Read the full article here.

The Absent Dialogue: Challenges of Building Reciprocity through Community Engagement in Teacher Education | Meghan E. Barnes, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
The-Absent-DialogueApproaches to education founded on the principles of community engagement provide faculty and students with a means for encouraging greater communication between universities and communities. Community-engaged teaching practices are particularly important within university-based teacher education programs. The increasing divide in the United States between the demographics of pre-service teachers (PSTs) and students in K-12 schools presents teacher educators with unique challenges: to prepare PSTs to work with diverse populations of students and to consider the community when developing lessons and curricula. This literature review examines current research and theory related to PSTs’ conceptions of the relationship between teaching English language arts and their knowledge of the community. Few of the studies reviewed inquired into the identities and experiences of PSTs before they entered teacher education. By evading a consideration of the experiences and backgrounds of their PSTs, however, teacher educators who endeavor to build greater connections across communities and their students fail to model the type of reciprocity necessary for community engagement, potentially contributing to PSTs’ limited understandings of diverse populations of students when they enter schools as teachers.  This article highlights ways in which dialogue and reciprocity serve as methods for teacher educators to address and overcome some of the critiques and challenges of community-engaged teaching.
Read the full article here.

Now We Need to Write Something that People Will Read: Examining Youth Choices as Perspectives of Literacy Research | Joanne E. Marciano and  Vaughn W. M. Watson, Michigan State University
Now-We-Need-to-Write-Something-that-People-Will-ReadIn this article, the authors examine opportunities and tensions that arose when youth co-researchers, collaborating in two in-depth, qualitative, participatory research studies, challenged modalities for sharing literacy research findings in academic forums such as peer-reviewed journals and at professional conferences. The authors frame the youths’ contributions as new forms of civic participation, highlighting the ways in which the youth co-researchers—Black youth and youth of color in a large city in the northeastern United States—sought to: (1) share research findings with “kids like us,” and (2) make the research relevant across multiple contexts. The article discusses implications for researchers and educators who seek to involve youth as designers, creators, and distributors of publicly engaged knowledge with communities grounded in partnership and reciprocity.
Read the full article here.

Reciprocity in the Practice of Publicly Engaged Scholarship: Reflections from a Transnational Literacy Project | Kate E. Kedley, Rowan University and Flores, Fe y Alegria, Honduras
Reciprocity-in-the-Practice-of-Publicly-Engaged-ScholarshipIn this article, the authors examine the concept of “reciprocity” in publicly engaged literacy scholarship. The idea of reciprocity suggests that projects using a publicly engaged research model should comprise two-way partnerships that strive to balance benefits to the researcher and to community partners. The authors (a researcher and a community partner) explore this dynamic by considering their own experiences working on projects with groups of youth in Honduras and in the United States. The groups shared their cultures and experiences through writing and technology, and challenged ideas about security and public space. Given the national, racial, cultural, economic, linguistic, and power dynamics inherent in these publicly engaged scholarship projects, reciprocity was a theme to which the authors paid close attention and about which they were in constant discussion.  The authors address a series of questions about reciprocity and scholarship, and find that through their experiences they have learned to define both concepts in ways that are not traditionally measurable and cannot be mapped out as directional.
Read the full article here.

Going Public: Teaching Undergraduates How to Write for Broad Audiences | Amy Lannin and Nancy West, University of Missouri
Going-PublicIn this article, the authors examine a common question that emerged within a large writing-across-the-curriculum program and throughout multi-disciplinary collaborations: How do faculty and students step into the roles of public scholars and public intellectuals? Whether the focus is on science communication with the general public or an initiative to connect public audiences with the arts and humanities, interest and need are joining forces in higher education. To take advantage of this, the authors—two faculty members at a large research university—developed and taught an undergraduate course called “Public Intellectuals/Public Scholarship.” This semester-long course involved a group of undergraduates, all from different majors, in reading a broad sampling of texts from the arena of public scholarship and public intellectuals. Through these readings, the students explored issues of both public and personal importance. By considering audience, purpose, context, and form, the students then wrote several pieces for a public audience, resulting in publishable products. Students went from being fearful of the idea of being a public intellectual to discovering that their words did matter in the public space. This article itself exemplifies a form of public scholarship as the authors describe the course they taught in order to share it—and its implications—with the broader educational public.
Read the full article here.

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